Stephen J. Lawrence, ‘Sesame Street’ Composer, Dies at 82
Stephen J. Lawrence, a Daytime Emmy-winning composer for Sesame Street, has died. He was 82.
Lawrence died Dec. 30 at Clara Maas Medical Center in Belleville, New Jersey, his wife, Cantor Cathy Lawrence, confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter. A cause of death was not provided.
Born on Sept. 5, 1939, Lawrence served as a composer, music director, arranger and conductor on longtime children’s television series Sesame Street for more than 30 years. He composed 300-plus songs and scores for the program, including “Fuzzy and Blue (and Orange),” co-written with David Axelrod. He received three Daytime Emmys for outstanding achievement in music direction and composition for his work on the show.
With an interest in children’s education, Lawrence also collaborated with The Jim Henson Co. when composing the score for The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss. He later co-founded the nonprofit Quill Entertainment with Granville Burgess in 1998.
In addition to Sesame Street, Lawrence is also recognized as the musical director and co-music producer on the 1972 album Free to Be You and Me — the album was certified gold — in which he composed the title song, as well as “When We Grow Up” and “Sisters and Brothers.”
Other composer credits include the 1973 Robert De Niro starrer Bang the Drum Slowly, One Summer Love (1976), cult horror film Alice, Sweet Alice (1976), live-action musical Red Riding Hood and the 1991 HBO animated musical The Tale of Peter Rabbit, starring Carol Burnett. He also composed the film score for AKA Communion (1976), which received the Music Award from the Paris Festival of Fantasy and Science Fiction in 1977. Lawrence was the music director and the co-writer of four songs for the film Sooner or Later (1979), including the gold single “You Take My Breath Away.”
He also served as the music director of Temple Sinai from 2002 to 2012.
Lawrence is survived by his wife; brother Robert; daughter Hannah Jones Anderson; son-in-law Seth Anderson; grandson Arthur; and stepsons Sam and Nick Kline.